Homochirality in an Early Peptide World

Status Report From: Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Astrobiology October 2007, 7(5): 725-732

A recently proposed model of non-autocatalytic reactions in dipeptide formation that leads to spontaneous symmetry breaking and homochirality was examined. The model is governed by activation, polymerization, epimerization, and depolymerization of amino acids. Symmetry breaking was determined to result primarily from the different rates of reactions that involve homodimers and heterodimers, i.e., stereoselective reactions, and the fact that epimerization can only occur on the N-terminal residue and not on the C-terminal residue. This corresponds to an auto-inductive cyclic process that works only in one direction. It is argued that epimerization mimics autocatalytic behavior as well as mutual antagonism, both of which are known to be crucial for the production of full homochirality.

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